Why Is It So Important for the Christian to Be Free of Addiction?
The Danger of Addiction as Idolatry
While many addicts can’t imagine admitting that they worship alcohol or drugs, addiction represents not only a mental and physical condition, but also a spiritual one. The Bible instructs that we must have no other gods before God. That means that He is the one who is to be praised, relied upon, loved, adored, and honored. When we are in need, we are to look to Him as the great provider. When life challenges us, we are called to bear and face the challenges with the strength He provides. This is a proper relationship between the Creator and the created. It is like the best of relationships between a father and child. It represents healthy dependence, trust, provision, and care. The relationship makes the child flourish.
But when this fundamental relationship is damaged or perverted through any number of life circumstances, certain individuals—for reasons not wholly understood—begin to feel that this relationship of dependence is impossible. Their world is awash with depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. They don’t believe that God can help. They seek their own help.
Poor Judgment for Some: A Dangerous Ride for the Addict
For some, this comfort and escape comes in the form of an alcoholic drink, a cupcake, or a one-night stand. The patterns may seem harmless enough. Don’t we all over-indulge once in a while? Don’t we all make a mistake in judgment? Truly we do. And for the normal individual, a mistake in judgment or an over-indulgence will trigger self-reflection and an honest commitment to modify the offensive behavior. But for the addict, it is only the first step onto a slippery slope. Rather than weaning off, they will find their resistance is lower than ever. The behavior comes unstoppably habitual.
This is damaging to any person—Christian or not. But for the Christian, addiction is especially grave. To place dependence and faith upon a substance or sex, is to take it away from the only One who has the power to save you—God Himself. A life dependent upon God is a life that thrives. To be wantonly running after food, drugs, or sex is to gradually invite one’s own destruction. Though the addict seeks control, his life becomes progressively unmanageable. His addiction is his idol. He cannot live for God when he is living to satisfy his cravings and desires.
And the danger extends outward. Christians are called to set an example in the world—they are to shine like light in darkness. But an addict who has transferred his dependence from God to an addiction has no capacity to be a representative for God in the world. Those who see him and the life he leads do not respect him or desire to live like him, nor do they see the beauty of a relationship with the Lord. When alcohol and not God, is Master, the addict becomes the object of disgrace.
God’s command that his created beings should have no other gods was not just to honor Himself. It was to honor us as well. 1 Corinthians 10:14 is to the point: “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”